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American Composer Gershwin Remembered on New CD - 2003-01-22

American popular music composer George Gershwin is honored on a new CD featuring dozens of top performers from the past 70 years.

George Gershwin's compositions inspired generations of musicians, songwriters and singers including Frank Sinatra who recorded Someone To Watch Over Me in 1945.

In the liner notes to the new CD, The Essential George Gershwin, award-winning songwriter Diane Warren recalls that Someone To Watch Over Me was the first Gershwin song she ever heard, and is one of her all-time favorites. She writes "I was seven or eight years old, and I don't remember who was singing, but I was struck by the song, the melody and the lyrics."

George Gershwin was drawn to jazz and classical music in his native Brooklyn, New York. He taught himself to play piano, and published his first song at age 18. Two years later, George teamed up with his older brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin, to write The Real American Folk Song (Is A Rag). They collaborated on and off for the next 19 years, producing hit songs for the Broadway stage and film. Their 1931 production Of Thee I Sing made history for being the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

One of the Gershwin's most famous musicals, Porgy And Bess, opened on Broadway in 1935. Its initial run lasted only 120 performances, but eventually interest in the show began to grow. Today, Porgy And Bess is billed as "An American folk opera," and described by Gershwin biographer Deena Rosenberg as "Gershwin's most thorough and effective mixture of popular and classical elements."

Also featured on The Essential George Gershwin are instrumental works from the hit musicals Lady, Be Good, An American In Paris and Strike Up The Band, as well as George Gershwin's own rendition of his classical masterpiece Rhapsody In Blue.